What Can I Eat if I Have a Peptic Ulcer?

Good & Bad Foods for Ulcers

teen eating with stomach pain
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Many people who have a peptic ulcer can eat whatever they want with no problems. Though for a long time it had been a widely held belief that spicy foods or a stressful job were what caused peptic ulcers, doctors now know that a bacterial infection or some medications cause most peptic ulcers. Therefore the best type of diet for them is one that is healthy and balanced.

If you, however, experience some symptoms of pain or other irritation when you eat, it may be because some of the foods you are eating are aggravating your ulcer symptoms.

This can happen for any or all of the following reasons:

  • Some foods that cause irritation to the digestive system
  • Some foods cause excessive acid production
  • Some foods cause unpleasant side effects, such as heartburn.

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Keep the following points in mind when planning your diet:

  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger meals. It is important that you avoid overeating. Frequent, smaller meals will be more comfortable and easier on the stomach than two or three large meals a day.
  • Eat a diet rich in fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables
  • Rest and relax a few minutes before and after each meal, as well as remaining relaxed during meals.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well
  • Avoid eating within 3 hours before bedtime
  • Eat foods that are low fat
  • Avoid foods that are fried
  • Avoid foods that are spicy
  • Cut down on the following foods:
    • Coffee
    • Decaffeinated coffee
    • Tea
    • Cola drinks
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Citrus fruits
    • Tomato-based products
    • Chocolate
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Quit smoking

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Foods that people with peptic ulcers can most often eat with no problems:

Breads and Grains

  • Whole-grain or enriched, seedless breads and grains:
    • Breads
    • Bagels
    • Tortillas
    • English muffins
    • Hamburger and hot dog buns
    • Dinner rolls
    • Pita bread
    • Cereals
  • Enriched rice
  • Enriched barley
  • Enriched noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pastas
  • French toast, muffins, pancakes, and waffles made with low-fat ingredients
  • Low-fat crackers

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Vegetable

  • Fresh
  • Frozen
  • Canned

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Fruit

  • Fresh
  • Frozen
  • Canned
  • Fruit juice as tolerated

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Milk and Dairy Products

  • Low-fat and non-fat milk and milk products
  • Cheese with less than 5 grams of fat per ounce
  • Plain mild cheeses
  • Low-fat and nonfat yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

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Meat and Meat Substitutes

  • All lean meat:
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Lamb
    • Veal
    • Poultry (without the skin)
  • All fresh, frozen, or canned fish packed in water
  • Crisp bacon
  • Lean ham
  • Eggs
  • Smooth peanut butter and nut butters
  • Soybean curd (tofu) and other meat substitutes
  • Dry beans and peas prepared without fat
  • Soups
  • Mildly seasoned meat stock or cream soups

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Fats (use sparingly)

  • Non-fat or low-fat dressings and mayonnaise
  • Non-fat or low-fat salad dressings
  • Mildly flavored gravies and sauces
  • Light or low-fat margarine
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Jelly
  • Seedless jam

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Snacks (use sparingly)

  • Hard candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Sherbet
  • Fruit ice
  • Gelatin
  • Angel food cake
  • Graham crackers
  • Pretzels (soft or hard)
  • Rice cakes

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    Misc.

    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Mild flavorings
    • Most herbs
    • Ketchup, mustard, and vinegar in moderation
    • All beverages as tolerated

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    Foods that people with peptic ulcers may need to limit;

    Breads and Grains

    • Breads and cereals prepared with high-fat ingredients:
      • Croissants
      • Biscuits
      • Granola-type cereals
    • Bread or bread products with nuts or dried fruit
    • Seeds in or on breads, and crackers
    • Bran cereals
    • Wild rice
    • High-fat snack crackers

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    Vegetable

    • Raw vegetables
    • Corn
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Onions
    • Cauliflower
    • Cucumber
    • Green peppers
    • Rutabagas
    • Turnips
    • Sauerkraut
    • Vegetables prepared with added fat
    • Tomatoes and tomato products

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    Fruit

    • Lemons
    • Grapefruit
    • Oranges
    • Pineapples
    • Tangerines
    • Citrus juices such as orange, pineapple, and grapefruit juice
    • Berries and figs

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    Milk and Dairy Products

    • Whole milk
    • Chocolate milk
    • Buttermilk made with whole milk
    • Evaporated whole milk
    • Cream
    • Strong flavored cheeses

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    Meat and Meat Substitutes

    • Highly seasoned meats
      • Corned beef
      • Luncheon meats
      • Frankfurters and other sausages
    • Highly seasoned poultry
    • Highly seasoned fish
      • Sardines
      • Anchovies
    • Fried meats
    • Fried poultry
    • Fried fish
    • Fatty meat
    • Dry beans and peas prepared with fat
    • Chunky peanut butter
    • Nuts
    • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds)

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    Fats

    • Gravies
    • Cream soups
    • Highly seasoned salad dressings

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    Snacks

    • High-fat snacks:
      • Chips
      • Fried potatoes
      • Buttered popcorn
    • Cakes
    • Cookies
    • Pies
    • Pastries
    • Doughnuts
    • Coconut
    • Chocolate
    • Creamed candy
    • All sweets and desserts containing nuts, coconut or fruit

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    Misc.

    • Carbonated beverages
    • Coffee (regular or decaffeinated)
    • Caffeine-containing beverages
      • Coffee
      • Tea
      • Colas
      • Orange soda
      • Dr. Pepper
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Strongly flavored seasonings and condiments
      • Garlic
      • Barbecue sauce
      • Chili sauce
      • Chili pepper
      • Chili powder
      • Horseradish
      • Black pepper
    • Highly spiced foods
    • Pickles
    • Nicotine
    • Aspirin and aspirin-containing medicines
    • NSAIDs

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    Useful Links:

    Sources:

    William D. Chey, M.D., F.A.C.G., A.G.A.F., F.A.C.P., Benjamin C.Y. Wong, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.G., F.A.C.P., "American College of Gastroenterology Guideline on the Management of Helicobacter pylori Infection." doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01393.x. American College of Gastroenterology. 10 Oct 2013

    "What I need to know about Peptic Ulcers." NIH Publication No. 05–5042 October 2004. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 10 Oct 201323 Aug 2007.

    "H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer." NIH Publication No. 05–4225 October 2004. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 10 Oct 201323 Aug 2007.

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